Vol 2, No 8
28 February 2000
C E N T R A L E U R O P E A N N E W S:
News Round-up for Bulgaria
News from Bulgaria since 21 February 2000
Six Bulgarian medical workers, one physician and five nurses were accused of infecting over 300 children in a Libyan hospital with the HIV virus. The charges call for capital punishment but do not prove how the medics infected the children. Prime Minister Nadezhda Mihailova has asked Libyan authorities to postpone the trial scheduled for 28 February since the accusers had just recently provided the Bulgarian side with the accusations. President Peter Stoyanov has reportedly had a telephone conversation with General Gaddafi and the two have discussed "issues of mutual interest," the Libyan paper Al Fajir reports on its front page. "We cannot assume nor believe the hypothesis that Bulgarian physicians and nurses have deliberately done what they are accused of," said President Stoyanov. The government decided to send high-ranking officials from the Ministry of Justice to Libya. Prime Minister Mihailova said that political contacts at all levels were sought with officials in Tripoli. Two lawyers, one a special presidential envoy and the other chosen by the relatives of the detained, will depart for Libya as soon as the Libyan embassy in Bulgaria issues the necessary visas.
Cyanide-poisoned waters entered the Bulgarian part of the Danube River last Saturday, 19 February 2000, exceeding the permissible concentrations by nearly 40%. The border police and environmental inspection officials are closely monitoring the levels of contamination. The flora and fauna living at the bottom of the river are already reported dead. The domestic water supply in nine villages was cut off due to the dangerous proximity of their water reservoirs to the river. Evdokia Maneva, Minister of Environment and Waters, said on Sunday that Bulgaria was going to consider seeking compensation from Romania. Maneva also said the Ministry was going to submit compensation demands to the Cabinet, which must then decide how to proceed.
Maneva expects that Bulgaria will raise the question before the Danube Commission, an institution composed of countries through which the river passes, and before the European Commission's special team that will be making the overall assessment of damages in the coming weeks. According to Romanian State Radio, cyanide-polluted waters were still flowing out of the gold smelter in Baia Mare last week. Seven wells in the vicinity were closed due to a cyanide concentration of 700 times above normal.
The exact location of the second bridge over the Danube linking Bulgaria and Romania was established at a meeting of representatives of both countries with the Balkan Stability Pact and experts from the European committee. The bridge will be built at kilometer 796 of the river, west of the Vidin ferry line. This site was chosen for its cost efficiency and suitable topography.
The World Bank approved a USD 50 million loan to help Bulgaria meet environmental standards of the European Union and help privatized firms cope with past environmental problems, Reuters reported last week. The bank said the money, to be repaid over 20 years after a five-year grace period, would help Bulgaria improve environmental policies and incorporate environmental issues into its privatization drive.
President Stoyanov is planning a meeting on 26 and 27 April in Sofia with Bulgarians living abroad. The Bulgarian Easter initiative is intended to help the country's integration into the EU. Over 2600 professionals were invited to attend and the Cabinet is hoping that at least 1000 of them will become directly involved in the administration of the negotiations. The forum, according to the president, will not be a one-time event, but a permanent form of dialogue. A second meeting will take place in August.
Rupert Murdoch's Balkan News Corporation, located in Sofia, is to become the first private broadcast television operator with nationwide coverage in Bulgaria. The official licensing of the US media mogul's Bulgarian Television (BTV) channel was initially scheduled for last Friday, 18 February, but was suspended after competitor, Media Broadcasting Services (MBS), appealed the government's decision to the Supreme Administrative Court. MBS's motives were not made public but one of the complaints, the Sega paper wrote, was that MBS was not informed about Murdoch's participation in the competition for the channel.
Nadia Rozeva, 18 February 2000
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